at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
As the plane flies over Old Trafford this lunchtime trailing a ‘Wrong One’ banner — as opposed to the ‘Chosen One’ flag still hanging limply inside the ground — it is not only David Moyes who should be ready to dodge any bombs that may be dropped from that aircraft.
Sir Alex Ferguson could have done with a tin hat this week as Manchester United were embarrassingly thrashed in their home derby against City.
And not because their neighbours are no longer just noisy, but deafening. It was the United supporters who started shouting abuse at the manager who has given them decades of glory. Then it was leaked by ‘a source’ close to the board that the owners and directors are questioning the legacy Moyes inherited from Ferguson.
How dare they?
Within months of him retiring, the muttering began. Throw in all the FA Cups, League Cups and a World Club Cup and you have a body of work which demands consideration of Fergie as the greatest football manager of all time. This is the living legend who delivered unto them 38 trophies in 26 years, which just happened to include 13 Premier League titles and two European Cups.
How dare they?
Got out at the right time, didn’t he? Team failing apart, wasn’t it?
Never mind that he had just won the league title, yet again. That he had somehow conned Arsene Wenger into letting United have Robin van Persie and applied a red-hot poker to Wayne Rooney’s rear-end. Who cares that he is now hoping to spend a few years enjoying his family, his fine wine and his racehorses and, as if it’s a crime, take his seat in the directors’ box?
What is the matter with these people?
Ferguson’s crime, apparently, is recommending Moyes as his successor.
Not actually appointing Moyes, by the way, just suggesting that he might be hewn from the same Glasgow rock-face so he was worth considering.
A perfectly logical notion and one which struck a chord with not only Sir Bobby Charlton, but also most of the fans.
The owners — having failed to persuade Sir Alex to carry on — could not come up with a better idea. And you have to ask: do they have a feasible candidate now?
If Ferguson made an error, it was not keeping his anointed one on ice until some other poor mug had been given the impossible task of following him. Better to be the one after next.
Remember that Sir Matt Busby did not touch Fergie’s shoulder with his Scottish sword until a few others had tried and failed.
A period of transition was inevitable. Although it has to be said that no-one thought it would be this traumatic.
While it is true that Sir Alex needed three or four years to rebuild the empire, he arrived at a time when serious decline had set in and rebuilding was one helluva task.
Whether the Fergie haters care to admit it or not, Moyes took over a going concern. He was also given so much to spend that United’s team is now more expensive than that of moneybags City.
So is it Ferguson’s fault that Moyes — with his cautious preference for experience over youth — failed to realise that his own protege at Everton, Ross Barkley, would have been a more exciting as well as cheaper investment than Marouane Fellaini at £27.5million? Or are we really supposed to believe that Sir Alex would have rushed into buying a second-hand car from shrewd old pal Jose Mourinho… and then played Juan Mata out of position?
Or that Fergie would have allowed any team of his — from East Stirlingshire to United — to roll over to Liverpool and City with hardly a fight?
So, yes, Moyes has made mistakes under pressure. He has also been too honest for his own good. No United manager should identify City as the team for them to look up to.
Perhaps the most significant blunder was clearing out his predecessor’s back-room staff. One element of the malicious gossip is that no-one is left at Old Trafford who understood how Fergie the dictator ran the football business. Well, it wasn’t him who got rid of the men who were privy to his inner workings.
Mike Phelan and Rene Meulensteen knew the players and the scene at Old Trafford inside out and could have eased Moyes into office. Perhaps an element of disappointment with that has been reflected in Paul Scholes and Gary Neville speaking out about the crisis engulfing their great club.
But Moyes is a big boy and a very well paid one, too. He must be man enough to take all the flak on the chin.
Whether he survives it or not depends initially on how his team react today against Aston Villa, to the hostile fly-past, and then, most dramatically of all, whether they can withstand a battering from the might of Bayern Munich.
After watching that the United directors, who still insist he is there for the long term, will have to update their view as to whether he is the manager to entrust with all the millions they are planning to spend.
But if not, who? Mourinho? Could be, but he would be Fergie’s next preference, so would the punters be happy about that?
If not, is nothing in this country sacred any more?
If United fans, simply because they are being asked to accept a season or two without gloating over their rivals, cannot respect Sir Alex Ferguson then they, too, should be ashamed of themselves. – Daily Mail